Looking forward toraw emotionof Friday night football
I can't put it in plainer terms than that. The choreography, the intensity, the crowd -- it all creates an atmosphere that is second to none in American sports.
Don't get me wrong, baseball is really where my heart lies, and I find basketball equally compelling.
Before I came to the Ledger-Enquirer, I had the pleasure of covering some of the best high school football in the state at The Times in Gainesville, Ga.
I was present when Gainesville High sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson, the 2011 Class AAA Player of the Year, accounted for more than 400 yards and eight touchdowns in a single game.
I had the pleasure of watching North Hall High running back Imani Cross, now with the University of Nebraska, run for nearly 2,000 yards in 2011.
I followed Buford High on its path of destruction, easily dispatching of every single opponent before struggling against Carver in the state semifinals and suffering a shocking upset to Calhoun in the state title game.
Along the way, I saw the camaraderie between players and coaches, the intensity and work that goes into every week, and the emotion that comes with every win or loss.
And those are the reasons I've come to love high school football.
I love both the NFL and college football, but neither have the innocence and raw emotion that you see in high school.
Take Carver's semifinal loss to Buford, for example.
Those players knew what they're up against. They're up against one of the great high school defenses ever assembled in the state of Georgia.
And yet, they play their hearts out, push Buford as far as they can push them before, ultimately, coming up short.
You could see the differing emotions on the two sidelines.
For Carver, the game probably hurt a little worse. For Buford, maybe it felt a little sweeter.
But seeing how invested the players were in the game and the coaches were in the players, it's encouraging for the state of athletics.
And then a week later, the toll that game took on Buford was strikingly evident.
It struggled to keep up with Calhoun in the Class AA state title game before, in the final two minutes, it scored twice to force overtime. And then, a goal-line fumble and a field goal ripped their hearts out.
And again, I saw the emotion.
I leave behind great memories of Friday night football in Gainesville, but I couldn't be more excited about the memories I'm about to build in Columbus.
I have plenty to learn about the area and more to learn about its players.
By all indications, though, it's every bit as exciting as what I leave behind. The players and coaches have changed, but the pulse of the sport hasn't.
The camaraderie is the same, and the coaches still invest everything they have into helping their kids succeed. The crowds still turn out and create exciting atmospheres.
And that emotion
I think I'm ready for football season.
David Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org, 706-571-8571
-- Follow David on twitter@leprepsports